Shakanaka is the Bergen-based British-punk-influenced lo-fi rock duo of guitarist Torgeir Høgheim and singer-drummer Eirik Gundersen.
Shakanaka’s sound embodies the highlights and vulnerabilities that come along with youth. Høgheim and Gundersen perform with a laidback attitude, not taking themselves so seriously. Shakanaka perfectly encapsulates the dichotomy between creating serious art and having fun.
But the third stage at Bergenfest, one of the leading music events in Norway, is a little more serious business for the duo. “This is the biggest thing we’ve done so far,” Gundersen said of their performance. Shakanaka played the venue’s DNB Scenen stage, a stage reserved for impeccable local talent, three times throughout the course of Bergenfest’s Wednesday schedule.
Since the band’s formation in several years ago, they performed many local Bergen shows together. The band is part of the Bergen music collective Vibbefanger. Vibbefanger is a creative house that organizes parties, clubs and concerts, gives out new music and builds bridges for musicians within the Bergen music scene.
At their Bergenfest gig, the duo expanded into a full lineup, with Gundersen moving to bass guitar from the drums and welcoming two more bandmates onto the stage. “It means a lot because there are so many bands in Bergen,” Gundersen said. “There are probably a thousand young bands and [Bergenfest] picked four so it’s crazy for us.”
Shakanaka’s self-described no bullshit punk rock is the perfect complement to Bergenfest’s headliners and Britpop icons Liam Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft.
The band cites Gallagher’s band Oasis as one of their primary influences among other American and British pop and punk rock musicians such as Iggy Pop, The Beatles and Pixies. To be playing at the same festival as music legend Gallagher is hard to believe and incredible for the men of Shakanaka, who expressed disbelief of ever making this much success within Norway’s music scene given their humble beginnings.
“We are childhood friends so we’ve known each other all our lives,” Gundersen said.
“We didn’t find out we wanted to start a band until we were like 20,” Høgheim said.
Although Gundersen and Høgheim had always been friends, they didn’t discover their mutual interest in starting a band until after high school.
“We were maybe a little bit bored after school and didn’t know what to do with our lives so we decided the hardest thing for us to do is try to become rock stars,” Gundersen said.
Høghem said the kickstarter for the band it could have been their common music taste, but probably because he played guitar and needed a drummer.
“After high school, I had never played an instrument before that,” Gundersen said. “We’ve been working some years now but we are finally starting to get somewhere.”
The band’s most recent release is a track titled “Medisin,” which contains punk guitar riffs structured with a pop mentality, a perfect formula for gritty ear candy.
Looking forward, the band plans on getting into the recording studio to begin work on their first album.
“Now we are going to record our debut album,” Gundersen said. “We have big ambitions for that. It’s going to be a great album. We are putting everything we’ve got into the music.”